Maine sewer district files lawsuit over PFAS-contaminated wastewater

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Maine’s York Sewer District announced last week it has filed a lawsuit against 3M, DuPont and other manufacturers for the presence of PFAS in the district’s wastewater.

Representing York Sewer District is SL Environmental Law Group P.C., a New Hampshire-based law firm that focuses exclusively on representing public entities, water systems, airports and businesses in water contamination litigation.

“At York Sewer District we are proudly working to hold polluters accountable,” said Phil Tucker, York Sewer District superintendent. “Our ratepayers are our top priority. Like so many across the State of Maine, York Sewer District is concerned about the impact of these chemicals to our health, infrastructure, and finances. Therefore, we thought it critical to partner with SL Environmental on this unprecedented matter.”

SL Environmental Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of York Sewer District against 3M Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and other PFAS manufacturers following sampling of wastewater effluent and biosolids (sludge) from the district’s wastewater treatment plant. Levels indicate contamination of the wastewater system from mostly household residential sources as York has no significant industrial customers for wastewater treatment.

Due to the widespread use of PFAS compounds in commercial and consumer products, PFAS tend to concentrate in wastewater streams, making wastewater treatment plants potential avenues of PFAS contamination. Though not currently regulated at the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strongly encouraged wastewater treatment plants to test for suspected upstream PFAS sources using the latest sampling methods and effluent guidelines. A risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids is also expected to be released by the winter of 2024.

In the absence of federal guidelines, some states have begun enacting wastewater regulations for PFAS. In Maine specifically, the Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to order the cleanup of PFAS contaminated sites or seek compensation from responsible parties to pay for that clean up, and a recently enacted law prohibits the spreading of PFAS-laden sludge and sludge-derived compost as fertilizer.

Exposure to certain PFAS has been associated with several negative health outcomes in both humans and animals. PFAS has impacted surface water and groundwater throughout the country resulting in hundreds of similar suits brought forward by water providers, and mostly against the same defendants, in an ongoing multi-district litigation supervised by a federal judge in South Carolina.

In collaboration with a team of law firms, SL Environmental Law Group is handling York Sewer District’s case along with several water systems in Maine and more than 100 entities across the country affected by PFAS.

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